The Healthy Communities workshop, which took place in 100 Mile House on Oct. 15, was a valuable opportunity for local organizations to meet and talk about the challenges they face as they attempt to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, adults (including seniors) and families in the South Cariboo.
“It was wonderful; the response was very positive,” says Lisa De Paoli, executive director of the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre and a member of the steering committee that planned the workshop.
“It was the first time that community leaders and providers got together to talk about issues that impact poverty, and how collaboration can reduce poverty in the South Cariboo.”
De Paoli acknowledges many groups have limited resources and time and different priorities, and that there is often tension between planning and action.
However, she adds the organizations involved have much strength, including a history of collaboration and working together.
The area has a “passionate, committed group of individuals and organizations focused on making a positive difference,” she explains.
Lea Smirfitt, also a member of the steering committee, says another strength is “a community working together to improve the health and well-being, safety and sense of belonging, for all residents of the South Cariboo.”
A common theme that emerged from the day was how important it is for everyone to find ways to schedule collaboration and plan to meet with others, De Paoli says.
“The only way to move forward and make systems work is to find ways to make collaboration work.”
Fifty people participated in the day-long workshop, and De Paoli says the South Cariboo is fortunate to have people who volunteer their time to make healthy communities.
“For so many people to take a full day to talk about how we can work together is awesome.”
The committee will now consolidate and summarize the information that was gathered, distribute it to those who attended and anyone else who is interested, and start to develop plans for the future, De Paoli adds.
“We don’t want this to be a one-time thing. We need to look at what structures we have that can take on this work.”
This might take the form of isolating a major issue, such as transit, and tackling that, she says, adding the committee also hopes to identify things that can be done now to help families experiencing poverty.
“We’re very hopeful that the result will be a plan that has specific actions and results, because we want to have positive changes and a healthy community. We’re all in this together.”